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If you are in for an adventure paired with lengthy, quirky, brutal honest thoughts then you are in the right place.

My name is Arisa and was a cosplayer for 12 years in Malaysia before settling down in Kyoto, Japan. Exploring Japan full time has been a long time dream of mine, so let's explore it together!
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Sending parcels to Japan from Malaysia Guide [2020 edition] * Updated 30/06/2021 *

Since so many recently inquired about how i usually get my parcels delivered over from Malaysia, in this entry I'll share some personal tips and necessary procedures on how to get your parcel safely across the sea and right to your doorstep in Japan. If possible in a hassle free manner, because after what i went through with my current parcel delivery, it's enough to make any sane person rage throughout the day. This is when you can use this word "めんどくさい” (mendokusai)- troublesome to describe my experience. 
For those of us currently living in Japan, we all know going back to our home countries for a visit isn't going to be possible anytime soon due to COVID19, we literally have to spend 1 month in quarratine - 2 weeks upon exiting a country, another 2 week upon re-entering, which is honestly not feasible for many of us especially those who are working; because where on earth are you going to get those extra days off? Not to mention how risky it is to be on a plane right now as well. 

So we are all definitely missing home even more right now because we are far from our family and friends, not forgetting our awesome Malaysian food. 
And after living here for 2 years, i find Japan really lacking alot of basic ingredients to make our local delicacies (or it could be my area, who knows?) so most of us tend to bring them back during our visit back. It's NORMAL for us to miss the food with grew up with, and seriously after awhile you'll realised that Malaysian food have more variety compared to Japanese food LOL. Not sure if it's me who only notices this, their food more or less tastes the same haha, could be because they mostly use dashi base in their cooking. Not hating, just an observation; for those who are so dense that they can't tell the difference between those two and quick to judge. 

Sending dried/ cooked packeted food stuff to Japan in general has no issues, usually only raw ones aren't allowed (don't want to accidentally import in pests that may treaten Japan's ecosystem) but there are some foods that aren't allowed in like pork, even cooked pre-packaged ones because of the swine flu outbreak (a year ago?). I remember they don't even allow you to bring in bakwa (roasted bbq pork slices) in your luggage, they'll make you dispose it at the customs upon before entering Japan. So yea, if you send them in your parcels, most likely you'll get in trouble with customs. When in doubt about certain stuff, you can always do a quick google search first or get your family in Japan to call up Japan customs to inquire especially if you can't find any info online. Don't just blindly send then later get into trouble with the risk of getting the whole box disposed. 


I've also heard lately that Pos Malaysia is giving everyone a hard time when it comes to international delivery, and their rates aren't exactly the best as well (not dissing, again this is a general observation), so i've been recommeding to friends this courier website that we've been using since last year. I'm pretty sure by now you guys in Malaysia would have seen Easyparcel ads going around and most online vendors use them as well because they provide direct home pick ups or drop offs at the nearest dispatch office in your area.  
Mind you, i'm not endorsed by this company to share and sing praises about them lol just sharing what works for us that's all. 

You can go to easyparcel's website and key in the delivery details (+box weight & measurements) for a quotation, a list of registered courier companies and their rates will appear, from there you can pick which suits your needs best. 
It's pretty convenient rather than you having to call up multiple courier companies who often just give vague replies which is super annoying especially when they tell you "please visit our office for more details". How about a "no", because not everyone so free to bring around their huge box jumping from one office to another. If you don't mind then by all means haha, some of us just like work smart.     

For us, we consistently stick to TNT (currently merged with DHL) when sending stuff to Japan as they by far have the best rates around (super affordable) and before COVID19, it took less than 5 days to reach Japan each time, fastest was 3-4 days? Right now, do expect shipment delays (this is inevitable, screw you rona *shakes fists in the air*) like 7-10 days (max) but it's not like we have anywhere to be so i'm cool with the waiting but if after 2 weeks you don't hear about your parcel, then it's most likely you are in big trouble. 

1.  Make sure your documents are all present & a detailed invoice attached

This one is VERY important because before Rona era, they (Japan customs) weren't so strict about the amount of contents being tallied with the invoice as long there's no illegal substance being shipped in. Right now they are literally nitpicking at every given chance. So if your box contains 10 items, better list down all 10 items. If there is an extra piece not accounted for then say hello to customs.  Don't use vague terms (last time it was okay, now a big no-no) like "noodles" use "instant noodles" or "cosmetic" use " eyeliner/ foundation/ mascara/ whatever to describe the make up being sent" .
Also i need to mention that the invoice generator for easyparcle is buggy lately because it doesn't let you fill in all the items rather than bulk them together (this caused my recent parcel problem), so fill in as much as you can (for example: non perishable food: instant noodles, potato chips, candy, chocolate) with the total, print it out with the airwaybill and make sure to attach your own additional invoice form together with it: https://www.tnt.com/express/en_gc/site/how-to/create-commercial-invoice.html  (if you are using TNT, you can use this invoice link, but if you decided to use other shipping companies then you can google their invoice forms)

Make sure the declared total is the same, if on your easyparcel generated invoice is RM500, then the additional invoice must also be RM500

This is the bug. UGH!!

The easyparcel invoice comes out like this, that's why you'll need to attach an additional invoice written in detailed. Please don't throw away the original easyparcel invoice ya. Wish we knew this earlier!

2.  Keep tracking your parcel

Never trust shipment companies to update you (even if you sign up for auto tracking), just head over to their website, refresh everyday if needed lol. But really, this is our job as a receiver to make sure that our parcel shipment is on track, and if anything is amiss you can immediately call the courier hotline to rectify it. And hound them if needed, demand a proper answer and do not take "maybe" or "i don't know" for an answer. I really can't stand people who say "don't know" especially if it's their job to find out on behalf of the customer. 

Is getting stuck at customs normal?

Not to scare you guys, but yes there is a possibility of your parcels being detained at customs for checking. This usually happens when they can't figure out what's written on the declared invoice, pardon their terrible English so they'll need to open up and see. Usually minor prodding around and it's good to go.

Another reason they'll detain your parcel is because of forbidden items, like previously i had no idea that dried baby food (small rice grains- sealed packs) is actually not allowed to be shipped into Japan but why, i'm not sure because the last time my client sent to me there was no issues reaching Kyoto so i thought i could post them back last feb then i don't have to pay extra over weight luggage fees (a yes, it's cheaper to post rather than pay for overweight lol). The reasoning behind this was very vague by the custom officer, but i was let off the hook and never shipped another bag of baby rice grain into Japan every since. When my parcel was detained, i received a call from the customs asking permission to check the box's contents, and the checking was quick because the following day i received my parcel. 

But it really also boils down to your luck because on some deliveries, i didn't even get detained and received my parcel within 3 working days. Mind you the contents are more or less the same each time (children toys/ books) malaysian condiments, noodles, etc each round. So if it gets stuck out of the blue despite having all the paperwork done, then it's the custom officer trying to find fault with you. 

Things you need to know about Japan customs

Just like everywhere else there are rotten lots, I've had my fair share of nice and terrible custom officers. Some even asking to pay additional money for the inspection (aka duit kopi), which is a no brainer for the additional fee because it is their job after all to carry out the inspection and even if there is such compulsary "hidden additional cost" that we normal citizens are unaware of; once you are billed, you have to pay because there is no escaping it but what i learned is that if the officer in charge tells you there is a "10,000 yen" inspection fee, just outright say you don't know there is such charges and they'll let you off. Sounds weird, i know!

Because what happened recently was my friend (in kanagawa) and i were expecting parcels from our family in Malaysia, and we had issues at the custom due to insufficient paperwork (aka not complete invoice) hence the sender has to send a new complete invoice to the shipping company who will forward it to custom for clearence. After the custom receives this new updated invoice, they'll just roughly check through the contents making sure it matches the amount declared. This was what happened for my friend's case and on usual basis, nothing out of the ordinary; just normal procedure. 
She didn't even get asked to pay the 10,000yen for the inspection. 


My parcel on the other hand. Same issue with the declared invoice therefore my sister sent TNT a new copy declaring all the items inside. And after a week of sending the new invoice, there was still no sight of my parcel and the status online was still "stuck in customs" so i called TNT to ask what's the hold up and is there anything else needed for clearence as we already provided everything that was asked of us previously. The tending customer service staff told me he would check and get back, in a few hours he told that customs has "JUST" completed the inspection will be sent to my door step the following week. Another week passed and still no sign of my parcel (mind you it's already almost the 4th week), status still states it's stuck in customs so i called and hounded TNT for lying to me about the release because this new CS in charge of my case said the customs never mentioned it was released. So i chased TNT to question custom on why is it being held back so long, and the next update we got is that we have to pay 10,000yen for the inspection? Wtf? 
Again we said, sorry don't know the existence of such fee and was let off the hook. So TWICE in separate parcel deliveries throughout the year we've been asked to pay this "mysterious fee" and it's clearly starting to sound fishy. 
If it's tax, then yea that one definitely die die have to pay or else won't get released but this? It's not even tax, can anyone tell me what the heck is this mysterious fee about? If there is no proper explanation for it, i can only assume it's duit kopi liao. In Malaysia duit kopi RM50 is enough to get you out in situations but 10,000yen? That's freaking expensive yo! I do not condone bribery but yea this is what i know and heard back in KL la. 

And guess what? 

After all the hounding, my parcel was finally released and we have waited for almost a month! Upon receiving it i found majority of the items inside- TRASHED. 
Inspection means checking, not damaging and i am super pissed that the custom officer in charge was so rough and not so bright either because we declared "mooncake" on the invoice and they still went ahead and cut open the box  when you can just slide the cover open. SERIOUSLY???? Even my 2 year old can do it but why can't a full grown adult?? I won't take, slicing is faster for an excuse because that takes more time than sliding the damn box open (-_-)

It also looks like it's done on purpose, probably it's because i didn't pay the extra 10,000yen (who knows?)
Comparing the condition of my friend's parcel and mine, you can clearly tell what's up with the officers in charge.  
All my bihun packets came with weird holes like it just came out of a rat infestation, if you use a blade to cut it open, it would be clear cut line but this? It's like those buffoons just use their hands to rip everything apart and by right in customs the boxes go through the scanner to detect illegal items but it looks like they didn't bother to scan and decided to tear everything up instead. Retards. As i'm writing this post out, we are trying to contact them for a compensation for the damaged goods and will update here if there is any progress. 

The sliced mooncake box

Holes around my bihun packs

Another one

This one takes the cake for being the largest hole, from what i heard if it was so called "drug inspection" they'll make a hole to check and TAPE IT BACK. But this doesn't have any tape at all.

Wtf..even #lilpenguin's flashcards wasn't spared and somehow managed to damaged it 

I've sent back many parcels to Malaysia and never once had i experienced Malaysian customs trashing parcels until like this. From what i heard from friends who had to deal with Malaysian customs, they'll usually ask you to come over to open it in front of them. And they NEVER EVER cut open a nicely packed wagashi omiyage, even scan can tell it's food; so i don't get why on earth would Japan customs do that to my mooncake? So heck yea, i have every right to be furious right now. 

Hope you guys find this mini guide useful especially if you are trying to get your family to ship stuff over from Malaysia, and pray hard to the Gods you don't get an asshole custom officer like i did. 
As long you have all your paperwork at hand, there honestly shouldn't be a problem la. 

Thanks for reading till the end!

[UPDATE: 30/06/2021]

As you all know, TNT has officially merged with FedEX earlier this year leaving us with very minimal affordable delivery options our Malaysian care packages which is unfortunate for some of us who are missing home dearly at this point.  

I've also heard that EMS by Pos Malaysia has officially resumed their courier services however there's alot of things going on with new rules and whatnot which is rather confusing. One i heard from a friend who tried to send me stuff- you can't send item with less than 6 months expiration date? Like this is new because even EMS Japan don't have such rule, the only reminder i get here is "there will be postal delays so best not to send items with short expiration date" and that's fair enough so i usually send items that can last at least more than a month because i don't expect my EMS parcel to take 6 months to arrive because its express service and not surface mail lol. But Pos Malaysia, why the sudden 6 months rule yo? So very the strange. 

And earlier this month (June 2021) I received a new care package from my family and thanks to my younger sister who went all out comparing courier rates with each shipping company it seems that if you were to send a large box (remember to factor in the box's dimension for volumetric weight calculation) that weighs over 15kg, it's best to just use FedEX priority is still cheaper compared to DHL & EMS. Damage done was RM600+ on shipping fees from Malaysia to Japan for 2021 and it arrived within 3-5 working days as predicted which is impressive given our current never ending "lockdown" situation between both countries lol. Well, paid that much they better deliver my parcel on time wei XD

How i miss the days where shipping fees with TNT would likely cost around RM400+ for this size and weight, like why they gotta take away this service from us, damn you FedEX!

Aside from EMS, DHL, FedEX you can also check out FlickPost and compare to see which courier's rates fits your budget and needs best. 

Hope this recent update helps and see you guys in my next one. 

P/s: I'll edit this entry from time to time, to make sure the updates are recent.

Yours Truly,

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